At our last support group meeting, we discussed IEPs. This post is mostly for the newbies to the world of IEPs. I am not an expert on the IEP, but I have sat through many meetings as a teacher and now as a parent. I will put these in a series so you can read a bit at a time. I welcome your input in the comments!
The IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is a legal document for school with accommodations and modifications for students with special needs. The IEP team consists of (at a minimum) the parents of the child, teachers, school therapy providers (speech, OT, PT, etc.), and an administrative representative (often a school counselor or assistant principal). Did I forget anyone? If they work with the student on the IEP then they might be there. They really should be there.
For many parents, attending one of these meetings is overwhelming. Not only are the school personnel using verbage unique to the education system but the parents are also outnumbered. Many times I have been the only parent available to attend the meeting with 5 school employees sitting opposite me. It's like you're sitting on the jury - and believe me you will feel judged.
When the meeting starts, the school team will toss around numbers and acronyms as if everyone who's anyone knows what that means.
"Have you tried the 504?"
"Maybe we should do an FBA."
"What is the BIP (or RTI)?"
"This is because of IDEA (or FAPE or NCLB)."
"Is this the LRE?"
"Do they receive OT or PT or SLP?"
"Are they eligible for ESY?"
Once they finish throwing those letters at you, the alphabet soup game continues with test names. They will start mentioning tests like the WISC and you are supposed to remember the name of each and every developmental or intelligence test your child has had... ever. Chances are your child has had a lot of testing done up to this point and it's all a blur by now.
Before I go on, I want you to know that I don't personally think this is done to make you feel stupid. In some cases this may be true but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time, I think they forget that not everyone talks in acronyms. They do this stuff every day while you are focusing your time and energy on behavior and daily living successes.
My first piece of advice to you is to Google search for special education acronyms and learn them. My second piece of advice is this - even if you feel stupid for asking, find out what they are talking about. You have every right to have it explained to you. Once they realize you aren't going to let it all float over your head, they will slow down and give you the explanations you deserve. They will also know that you are paying attention.
You aren't stupid. Getting more information is the smart thing to do.
Do your homework before you meet.
Ask every question you need to ask.
If you don't ask, who will?
We have a support group for moms in the Tulsa area!
Our group meets the first Thursday of every month from 7-9p.
We welcome all moms who are parenting children who have Asperger's Syndrome.
For locations and last minute updates about meetings, check here or (even better) check our Facebook page.
We are currently meeting in the back room at Mazzio's on 51st & Sheridan in Tulsa.